B-Side: For Taylor – Review

b-side: For Taylor - Review

B-Side: For Taylor – Review. By Joe Muldoon

Living in a quiet suburban area are 14-year-old Taylor (Jeannine Vargas) and her adoptive father Bill (Dave Huber). A year on from the death of Taylor’s adoptive mother, her relationship with Bill is strained, and their wounds remain open but unaddressed. Unbeknownst to her father, the teen has been searching in vain for her Korean birth parents, and this desperation is only exacerbated when a Korean family moves into the house across the street.

As punishment for her fighting at school, Bill offers his daughter’s services as a volunteer English tutor to Da-Young (Jacky Jung), the girl who has just moved in. The girls quickly realise that they can help one another to fulfil their personal dreams; Taylor can give her mentee (an aspiring popstar) the singing lesson tapes that her mother left for her, and Da-Young can help her new friend to find her birth parents.

As Da-Young’s mother Areum (Esther Moon) sits the girls down to eat together, Taylor reveals that she has never eaten Korean food before. Connected by heritage but separated by culture and language, the reason for Taylor’s increasing desperation to find her birth parents becomes clearer. Though Bill has been a devoted father, being a white American, he has been unable to provide the Korean culture with which his daughter so desires to reconnect. Areum feels for the teen, and agrees to help with her quest on one condition: that Bill be involved in the process.

The sophomore directorial feature of Christina Yr. Lim’s filmography, B-Side: For Taylor is a touching teen-oriented drama, and one that delicately explores the nuances of adoption and testy family dynamics. Though some plot elements are from well-trodden ground, Lim resists the urge to rely upon cliché, and avoids making even the less significant characters one-dimensional. That said, some of the minor subplots are somewhat unfulfilled, making it unclear whether they were deliberately unfinished, or simply forgotten about.

For instance, local boy Kyle (Dexter Farren Haag) has been bullying Taylor at school and provoking her to fight, but this is mostly forgotten after he is suspended and trashes Bill’s classroom in revenge. Lim’s writing is strongest when she focuses upon the central plot at hand, but slightly falters when it comes to peripheral storytelling. A sweet and emotionally-driven drama, B-Side: For Taylor will likely appeal greatly to its younger audience, and will provide comfort to those who struggle to reconcile their heritage with their culture.

By Joe Muldoon.

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